Why I’m a Proud Scrunchy Mama
Crunchy Moms Vs. Silky Moms: Who Wore it Better?
Before I begin, if you have no idea what a scrunchy mama is, don’t worry. Neither did I until a few days ago. But then I started to notice the hashtag #crunchymama popping up on my social media feeds. Crunchy mama? I clicked the hashtag and noticed a bunch of photos of moms breastfeeding or wearing their cloth-diapered babies and I began to assume it had something to do with natural parenting. I had to know for sure, so I Googled it.
Bingo! I learned that the definition of a “crunchy mom” is a mom who practices natural parenting or, as defined by one website, a “neo-hippie.” So basically if you are a crunchy mom, you typically give birth at home (or in a meadow or river or something), cloth-diaper your babes, prepare all your own organic baby foods, co-sleep, breastfeed exclusively (no bottles or formula), believe in baby-led weaning and are anti-vaccinations.
From my research, the term “crunchy” supposedly comes from the fact that these women are called “granola,” (slang for “hippie”) and granola is crunchy. I know, it’s pretty deep. You may need a moment to fully process that one.
So if “crunchy” is a term used to describe a natural mama, what about the other end of the spectrum? No worries, I Googled that too. According to many references on the web, the opposite of a “crunchy mom” is a “silky mom.” Why silky? I don’t actually know, but I would imagine that whoever coined these terms figured that silky was the opposite of crunchy. Mind. Blown.
A silky mom is a mom who gives birth in the sterile hospital environment, uses disposable diapers and may breastfeed but also bottle feeds and maybe formula feeds too. She buys baby food from the store, uses a stroller rather than a baby-wearing device, vaccinates her kiddos and banishes them to a crib where they may even be left to cry it out until they finally give up and fall asleep.
But what about the moms in the middle? Well, apparently they’re called “scrunchy moms.” I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself. It’s about as philosophical a term as the previous two, only less so.
My Scrunchy Confession…
Scrunchy moms cherry-pick elements of both crunchy and silky moms when choosing how to birth, care for and raise their children. They may give birth in a hospital, vaccinate and push their kids in a stroller but also breastfeed, use cloth diapers and co-sleep. Aha! That’s me! Much to my surprise, my style of “I don’t really have a plan, I’m just wingin’ it day-by-day” parenting actually has a name! My name is Anna and I am a scrunchy mom.
When I first discovered the hashtag that led me to this whole new world of mom-labelling I never knew existed, I noticed thousands of pictures and posts with the hashtag #crunchymama. Surely, I thought, there must be some #silkymama and #scrunchymama posts out there too. And indeed there are… Like, a whopping few dozen of them.
On some posts discussing the topic, I even saw self-proclaimed “silky” moms apologizing or otherwise expressing shame for being so! So what gives? Why the discrepancy? How come #crunchymamas are stealing the spotlight? Where my silky and my scrunchy mommas at?
The Era of Mom Shaming
“How others raise their kids is their concern, not yours…It is your job to advocate for your own children. Period.”
I quickly came to my own conclusion that silky moms and scrunchy moms definitely exist in larger numbers than it would appear if judging by hashtags alone. But they aren’t advertising it because they’re either not proud of it or they just don’t know such labels exist.
I think that this is because at this moment in history, the pendulum has swung very much in the direction of natural parenting. That’s great! I totally encourage mothers to give the natural parenting thing a try, so long as it works for them. See how I underlined that last bit? It’s because it’s really important.
So often I see mothers cutting each other down because they disagree on how to raise their children. That needs to stop right now. We are all doing the best we can and some days it is no small victory if all we do is keep our kids alive and celebrate that with a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Unless you are neglecting, abusing or otherwise intentionally harming your children, you should never feel guilty about the way you choose to raise your most precious crop. Likewise, how others raise their kids is their concern, not yours. You can dislike other people’s choices all you want but at the end of the day the only thing you really have control over is the choices you make yourself, so my advice is to focus on that.
Now, I know I may have touched a nerve with that last point, and you may be thinking “ya, but parents who don’t vaccinate put their own child and other children at risk,” or “ya, but circumcision/crying-it-out/co-sleeping/etc. is dangerous and unnecessary and babies can’t speak for themselves so it is my duty to speak for them!” No, it is not. It is your job to advocate for your own children. Period.
The last thing that is going to change the way others parent is berating or belittling them for it, so it’s wasted energy to do so. All that will happen is they will shut down and remain hidden instead of hashtagging about it.
There was a story recently on our local news about a new mother who disappeared shortly after giving birth. Her family was desperate in their search for her and worried about her mental health. Her husband said she may have been suffering from postpartum depression and that she was feeling guilty about the fact that, try as she might, she was unable to breastfeed her newborn.
After weeks of searching, her body was discovered. Her husband came forward to plead with the public to not feel guilty if they are unable to breastfeed and to not shame other mothers who are unable to. She left behind a newborn son.
It Takes a Village
When I say I am a proud scrunchy mama and you should be too, what I mean is that I have no shame about how I choose to raise my children and nor should you.
I have definitely, in times past, tried to avoid mentioning that I co-sleep with my daughter because I’ve been scared of the reaction I will get from those who think it’s wrong or dangerous. But only I, my husband and our daughter know what works best for us. I will no longer feel guilt about that, and my hope is that if you have felt that way before, that you know that you are doing a great job and should be nothing but proud.
As women, we are so used to ripping on each other right from a young age. We criticize and even bully each other about our looks, our promiscuity or our prudishness, who we date, what we eat, how we act, and on and on and on. Let’s not continue that trend into motherhood. Let’s be better than that. Let’s raise our daughters to be better than that, and let’s teach our children to raise each other up instead of cutting each other down.
It takes a village, as they say, so let’s be a village that welcomes each other in with open arms. Be a proud #crunchy, #scrunchy or #silky mama, but more importantly treat those who are different with kindness and respect. Remember, we’ve got little ones looking up to us. Let’s show them what’s really important; Let’s show them how to love one another. They won’t remember what kind of diapers they wore anyway.
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